We all know the feeling of dread that encompasses the approach of a deadline, a test, a meeting you’ve put off for too long. Even speaking to someone you admire can lead to crippling aversion.
That type of fear can stop us from success if we’re not proactive.
Failing is one of the ultimate fears of human living. It stops us from learning, taking chances, and it hinders our confidence.
The words failure and failing mean weakness, shortcomings, and defectiveness. But those are not titles–they’re points of improvement.
When someone has a weak point in their body, like an underdeveloped muscle, we don’t cut off the whole arm. We work on it. We give it attention so it will catch up to the rest of us.
Imagine if we treated failure the same way. What if we embraced the possibility of failure instead of fearing it?
Sounds great in theory, right? But how do you actually go about embracing failure?
Step 1: Be bold in your experiences
I don’t mean proudly exclaim to everyone how stupendously you’ve failed. (Unless that sounds like something you want to do, then by all means. Go for it.)
What I mean is when you do fall short, take the hit. Own it. It’s only a complete failure if you learn nothing through the experience.
When I failed to get into my dream program, Praxis, I could have easily given up right there. After all, I had tried. I had followed through with my accidental submission.
However, that outcome led me to improvement and a clearer vision of what I was aiming for. It further defined the passion I have for building a career I love and creating value for others.
Sometimes it takes a few mistakes to shake you into action.
“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement” –Matt Biondi.
Step 2: Be resourceful in your sufferings
It’s tempting to spiral into a pity party when you’re low.
If you view that period as a chance to re-evaluate and discover, you use the time wisely. You never know what you’ll find if you look past the initial responses.
Our knee-jerk reactions can be trained to benefit us instead of hindering our endeavors.
After my failed attempt at enrolling, I focused on doing what I was working on in myself, for myself. I knew I couldn’t do it for Praxis, or it wouldn’t last. It had to come from inside.
That approach earned me a spot in the program a year later!
The joy and feeling of accomplishment that filled my heart at that moment made every single sacrifice worth it. Knowing that I have the power to overcome my fear of failure and embrace that process has empowered me to tackle life in a new and exciting way.
Once you have a point of reference for your shortcomings, you can build them up. Once you know something is truly worth fighting for, you can begin to evolve.
“If it turns out that my best wasn’t good enough, at least I won’t look back and say I was afraid to try.” –Michael Jordan
Step 3: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
People do the most growing when they’re out of their element. Don’t shy from change and opportunity based only on not wanting to disrupt your routine. Look at how the mother eagle removes the softness from her nest and pushes her chicks to the edge; she makes it uncomfortable, so they know that it’s time to fly.
We all have a small clock in our system that ticks and wires along, sometimes it strikes a number and we feel an overwhelming call to action, a nudge that feels like the word “GO” at moments in life where we could either choose safety and security or make a change.
Step forward. Get up; don’t stay down. Speak up instead of being silent.
You’ll never be 100% ready. You can only try to be better.
“Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” –Thomas Edison
Step 4: Banish the victim mentality
Painting yourself as the victim after a failure achieves nothing.
It may be gratifying at first, but it won’t sustain you. Taking responsibility for your situations and outcomes will equip you with the tools to move forward with confidence. With the knowledge gained from the experience and the mindset of ownership, you’ll know how to tackle future obstacles with more success.
If there’s something you know you need to do, a pressure in your chest that won’t release, look that foreboding feeling straight in the eye and take charge of your life.
“The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change anything in your life.”
To sum it up
Remember that everyone is learning as they go. Slipping up doesn’t mean you should quit or wallow. At least not for long. Each emotion has its day in the sun, but be mindful of which ones you entertain permanently.
I’ll be working on this along with everyone else, trying my best to slay the beast of discouragement and gain control over my responses.
Failure is an opportunity for growth, improvement, and moving forward with a new perspective.
Look for the value in every situation, and keep going.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” –Winston Churchill.
Heather Drabant is a writer, an artist, and a constant seeker of challenges, as well as a current Praxis participant. You can follow her work at heatherdrabant.com